What is intermittent fasting (IF)?
Intermittent fasting is a form of eating where you consume food only within a very specific window of time. There are various types of intermittent fasting. You will often see IF (intermittent fasting) used anywhere from 12-16-hour windows–and as long as a full 24 hour fast. IF is a tool. As with any other new diet, you may find great success from the beginning. This tool still needs to be customized to the user. Limiting the hours, you can eat often means you will consume less calories. This can lead to greater weight loss over time.
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Fasting Window Options for IF
16/8: Fasting for 16 hours a day. Eating within an 8 hour window. It could be as easy as finishing your last meal by 8pm and not eating your next meal until noon the next day. Allowing most of your IF window while you’re sleeping. This only works if you’re eating healthy foods. Eating junk and excess calories will backfire.
5:2 Restricting 2 days to 500-600 calories and eating normally the other 5 days. There is not much research on this method that shows as many benefits as other methods of IF.
Eat/Stop/Eat: Doing a 24 hour fast once or twice a week. Another variation is to eat normally one day, then fast the next, then eat normally—as a regular schedule. Some people find this is too extreme, and the twice-weekly 24-hour fasts are enough.
If using this method for weight loss, it is important to eat normally and not in excess the days you are not fasting. You can use the 16/8 method as a gateway if you’re not ready to jump right in to a 24 hour fast.
Alternate Day Method (Fasting Every Other Day): This is also a variation to the “Eat/Stop/Eat” method. Instead of fully fasting on the “stop” days, you may fully fast or restrict to 500 calories a day. This is a very extreme method of fasting.
Warrior Method: Fasting all day and eating one big meal in the evening that incorporates all calories, or two meals that total the number of daily calories. It’s recommended to eat a small number of veggies and fruit during the day as this helps with regularity.
Another Option: Simply skip a meal when you’re not hungry. There are no rules. Find what works for you.
What are the benefits of IF?
It’s not about restriction or counting calories. Intermittent fasting helps you eat fewer calories, slightly boost your metabolism and maintain muscle while losing fat. It is a very effective tool for losing belly fat.
Weight loss is just one of the many benefits of IF. Intermittent fasting changes the functions of cells. They change which genes they express my initiating important cellular repair processes. Intermittent fasting can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by reducing insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels.
Intermittent can also reduce inflammation in the body and oxidative stress. This helps combat development of diseases and aging. Intermittent fasting removes waste materials from cells and increases the cellular repair process. Intermittent fasting has been shown to help prevent cancer and may be beneficial for heart health. Intermittent fasting may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
It may also stimulate the growth of new neurons which is good for your brain! With all of the benefits of IF, you may just live longer too!
Many factors play a role in whether this would be a successful tool for you. Such as availability, schedule, preferences and how you feel. Bottom line: Always give any new protocol a trial period. How did it affect your sleep? Are you recovering from your training? Is it practical & sustainable for your lifestyle? Don’t be dogmatic about any one of being. Stay open. We all need various protocols in different stages of our lives.
If so, what has worked for you and what has been your greatest obstacle?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Danielle Faith Gordon is an online health and nutrition coach, and has worked with athletes from all backgrounds and skill levels. She has a fitness and life coaching business, Danielle Faith: Mind/Body Mentor, and is also a coach for SEALgrinderPT.